No Common Sense

Written by Dennis Sun

     We at the Roundup hope you all had a blessed Christmas season at your house. Some of us got nailed by the wintery weather on Christmas Day, but it is a new year, and we wish you, your family and your businesses all the best for the New Year.

At times, we think we have seen it all coming out of Washington, D.C., but in the last year or so, a new regulation has surfaced that will really hinder the interstate transportation of livestock.

If you have ever driven Interstate 80 in southern Wyoming with border-to-border truck traffic, one sees the need for some control of all the trucks, but the government has gone too far, and this new rule will hurt those who raise or handle livestock.

A rule that was developed by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration in late 2015 is supposed to go into effect Dec. 18, 2017. The rule says that all trucks in interstate commerce that are model year 2000 and newer are mandated to use electronic logbooks, and of course, the devil’s in the details.

The final rule does not change federal hours of service requirements. Drivers required to maintain federal records of duty status must convert from paper logs to electronic logging devices. These electronic logging devices are foolproof and by the book. They can control the truck’s speed and shut down the motor after the allotted hours of the truck running, and it doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of the Red Desert or in a Walmart parking lot. These logging devices are guided by satellite, so one cannot hide. They are also tamper-proof.

So, the problem for livestock haulers is that they may pick up a load of calves, say in the middle of the Red Desert in a location that took two hours to get to. Then, they may have left the truck running while waiting to load before returning back to the highway. The trucker stops at a truck stop to eat lunch, with the motor running, and then heads on to Garden City, Kans. to deliver the calves.

Under the new rules, the electronic logging device would shut the motor off just hours from Garden City, Kans., as the truck’s motor had run the allotted hours.

Under the new rules, it doesn’t matter if the truck’s wheels have moved or not. If the motor was running, the clock was running. Just think what would happen in cold weather.

Even if one wants to unload the livestock and shut the truck down to meet the rule’s requirements, the infrastructure is just not out there along the highways to do so. Livestock producers will have to find buyers closer to home, and with the fewer packinghouses, how are we supposed to get fat cattle or lambs to the packinghouse? I can’t imagine how rodeo stock producers are going to get to all the rodeos they need to.

I hear that the oil and gas industry has exemptions for off-the-clock waiting time. The livestock haulers need that and longer times without rest – or just exemptions from the rules. There is a lot of difference between a load of calves, lambs or rodeo stock and a truckload of Pampers. All are important, but some need to eat and drink while we sleep.

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